Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Posts Tagged ‘tree

Portraits from our yard: episode 7

with 27 comments

Ashe juniper trees (Juniperus ashei) grow on all four sides of our house. What appealed to me about the one in our back yard shown above on July 22nd was the way two Virginia creeper vines (Parthenocissus quinquefolia) have flanked the trunk this year. That let me make a vertical “sandwich” of green-brown-green that thoroughly filled the frame. On the technical side, let me add that I took the picture from a distance and used my macro lens as a regular 100mm lens for a change. Below is an Ashe juniper in our front yard whose corrugated trunk always gets my attention. It, too, nicely fills a frame, with the corrugations offering countervailing horizontal elements to the predominant verticality of the image.


◊       ◊

And speaking of verticality, we hear a lot from activists about “white privilege,” but those ideologues are whitewashing the real problem: it’s not white privilege but height privilege. Tall people can reach things from high shelves without needing a stepladder. Tall people can see over the heads of others in crowds and theaters and stadiums. Tall people get to be on basketball teams. Getting the short end of the stick are non-tall men. According to an article on more.com,”a study… published in the Journal of Applied Psychology revealed that in the U.S., a six-foot-tall man makes an average of $790 more per year than his shorter peers do.” Women on average have a preference for taller men. Psychology Today reported on a study showing that “Men were most satisfied with women slightly shorter than them (about 3 in.), but women were most satisfied when they were much shorter than their male partners (about 8 in.)” On and on it goes, and it’s a real downer.

As an American man only 5’5″ tall, I get short shrift every minute of my life from a society poisoned by systemic heightism and toxic tallicity. According to an online height percentile calculator, I’m in the 8th percentile of American men, so I should have to pay only 8% of all the taxes I’m subject to. It’s also clear that reparations are owed me. I don’t want to seem vengeful, so it could be something as modest as $1,000,000 for each year I’ve endured the degradation of being short. More generally, every public institution should have a safe space with a low entrance and a low ceiling where no tall people are allowed to enter. A “bigger warning” should be posted everywhere I’m likely to encounter tall people. Whenever I’m waiting in line, all taller people ahead of me should have to relinquish their places and go to the end of the line (Get thee behind me, Satan!). Tall people who sell short on the stock market are committing altitudinal appropriation; only short people should be allowed to sell stock that way. People who use the s-word in saying horrific things like “I’m short on cash” or “When I was asked for an answer I came up short” or “I suffer from shortness of breath” should immediately lose their jobs, be banned from all social media, and have to abase themselves by undergoing height-sensitivity training on their hands and knees. It’s high time society stops selling short people short!

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

August 7, 2021 at 4:37 AM

Waterfall Wednesday #3

with 49 comments

You’ll forgive me if I’ve let the definition of waterfall spill over into unaccustomed semantic territory. After recent rain, on June 4th along Bull Creek there was indeed water falling from a cliff. Down it came in many narrow streams, some over moss-covered rocks, others over maidenhair ferns, Adiantum capillus-veneris. It seems botanists have done a bit of semantic boundary-pushing, too: the species name for these maidenhair ferns means ‘hair of Venus,’ yet from what I’ve read of Roman mythology, Venus was no modest maiden.

In “Thoughts in a Garden” English poet Andrew Marvell wrote:

No white nor red was ever seen
So amorous as this lovely green.

Today’s pictures don’t show a garden, yet the greens they deliver to your eyes are a marvel.
(Related English words that also trace back to Latin are miracle, mirage, mirror, and admire.)

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

June 23, 2021 at 4:32 AM

Posted in nature photography

Tagged with , , , , ,

A warty Mexican hat

with 20 comments

Occasionally the central column in a Mexican hat flower head (Ratibida columnifera) gets warty-looking. That was the case with this one I found in Great Hills Park on May 18th. Because the Mexican hat grew near some dead Ashe juniper branches (Juniperus ashei) on the ground, I was able to get their rich harmonizing brown around the flower head, while a broad aperture of f/3.5 kept the background completely free of details.

For something different, check out how photographic illustrator Josh Dykgraaf combines many small photographs of plants and landscapes to create pictures of animals.

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 26, 2021 at 4:35 AM

A large redbud tree blossoming

with 44 comments

Here’s how a large redbud tree, Cercis canadensis var. texensis, looked in the town of Cedar Park on March 17th. While no bright St. Patrick’s Day green put in an appearance here, the scene’s color scheme does remind us that before the middle of the 20th century Americans went with pink for baby boys and blue for baby girls. In the realm of geology rather than sociology, the magnetic polarity of the earth has also occasionally reversed. So have a few of my opinions, and presumably so have some of yours as well.

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

March 25, 2021 at 4:28 AM

Great purple hairstreak butterfly and Mexican plum blossoms

with 32 comments

On March 15th at McKinney Falls State Park many flying insects were drawn to the heady blossoms of a Mexican plum tree (Prunus mexicana). Among those insects was a great purple hairstreak butterfly (Atlides halesus). You can see that despite its common name, it doesn’t look purple. You can also see in the second picture the dense multitude of blossoms that adorned the tree.

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

March 23, 2021 at 4:29 AM

Ice and Ashe junipers

with 18 comments

Of all the kinds of trees in Austin, Ashe junipers (Juniperus ashei) seem to have been the hardest hit by the February ice storm, with the weight of the accumulated ice causing many large limbs to break. That was the fate of several in our yard. What else could a photographer do but look for opportunities in the wreckage? An Ashe juniper on our front lawn yielded these three pictures (and more) on February 19th.

The second view looks straight upward. The last strikes me as a bent ice nail.

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

March 14, 2021 at 4:36 AM

More ice pictures

with 24 comments

Above is a February 12th view from farther back of the ice-covered possumhaw tree (Ilex decidua) in Great Hills Park that provided the close-up you saw last time. Below is a lichen-covered oak twig that ice added its own kind of coating to.

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

February 15, 2021 at 4:37 AM

Posted in nature photography

Tagged with , , , , , ,

Winter comes to Austin for the second time in 2021

with 50 comments

First came the January 10th snowfall, which you’ve seen in a bunch of pictures. On February 11th we got hit with an ice storm, and the temperature has only briefly been above freezing since then. On the 12th I spent a couple of hours in Great Hills Park photographing ice-coated plants, including a possumhaw tree (Ilex decidua), many of whose little fruits had icicles hanging from them.

I intended to post this yesterday but the electricity in my neighborhood kept going out on the 12th, including when I’d almost finished editing this picture but hadn’t yet saved it, so I shut my computer off as a precaution. In any case, since today is Valentine’s Day, you can downplay the ice and let the red symbolize romance.

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

February 14, 2021 at 4:25 AM

Posted in nature photography

Tagged with , , , , ,

Lush Spanish moss

with 16 comments

The first thing that caught my attention at Palmetto State Park on January 29th wasn’t the palmettos but the lush Spanish moss (Tillandsia usneoides) hanging from many of the trees. Extra points if you know that Spanish moss is an epiphyte and a vascular plant rather than a true moss. Even more points if you can say lush Spanish moss quickly five times without messing up.

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

February 9, 2021 at 3:47 AM

Snow-covered possumhaw

with 17 comments

As yet another picture from January 10th, and perhaps the last, here’s a fruitful possumhaw tree (Ilex decidua) I spotted on someone’s front yard half a mile from home. The species name tells us that possumhaws shed their leaves in the winter, but some—this one, for instance—take a good deal longer to do so than others.

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

January 27, 2021 at 4:40 AM

Posted in nature photography

Tagged with , , , , , , ,

%d bloggers like this: